Perpetual Return or On Being Included: Again, and again and again…

Perpetual Return or On Being Included: Again, and again and again…

26th Sept · 10h45 · Auditorium 2

“Perpetual Return or On Being Included: Again, and again and again…”

By Wayne Modest, keynote speaker and Susana Gomes da Silva, moderator.  

Museums, like other institutions within the arts and heritage sectors across Europe are again lively sites for discussions about diversity and inclusion. Unsurprisingly, this heightened interest in diversity and inclusion coincides with growing, if not competitive interest to revisit the histories of slavery and colonialism in museums and archives and in society more broadly, to uncover and represent alternative more inclusive perspectives. For those with longer histories in diversity and inclusion work, these discussions may seem nostalgic, even exasperating, a return to decades of unfulfilled promises from an unchanged sector. Indeed, some activists and diversity practitioners have push back against diversity in favour of the more political project of decolonisation, and resist practices of inclusion as paternalistic, symbolic and lacking institutional commitment. But is this moment, indeed, no more than a perpetual return, no different from previous iterations at inclusive practices? And if so, why not?

In this presentation I want to reflect on this current moment of diversity and inclusion work in the Netherlands. Thinking with the work of Sara Ahmed (from whom I take my title) among other scholars thinking about diversity, racialisation, structural inequality, and justice, I want to examine some of the main features of these practices to try to understand if and how this might signal real shifts in the field. My focus in this paper will be primarily, but not limited to the museums.

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